Will looked so much older since John had last seen him, more tired and worn than any man his age should. They were the same age and for a brief moment, John had a vanity crisis, wondering if he looked so old as well. He shoved the selfish thought away as Ronon spoke up.
“You know him?” Ronon asked, having followed John’s gaze towards Lennox.
“Yeah, we worked some ops together. Kept in touch until I went to Atlantis. Tried to contact him last time I was back, but he was unreachable,” John replied. He wondered if his old friend would be interested in a drink.
“Were you lovers?” Ronon asked, always straight to the point.
“No,” John denied. They hadn’t been, but he wouldn’t have turned the other man down
When Will finally noticed him, a small smile crossed his face, and he headed in their direction. Reaching them, Will’s hand rose in a salute and his smile grew wider. John followed suit with a salute of his own. When their hands dropped they shook, and before John could stop himself he pulled Lennox into a hug.
Lennox froze for a moment before returning it. It didn’t last long though as they were on a military base and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was still firmly in place, and he suddenly seemed to realize Ronon’s presence, raising his eyes to meet taller man’s.
“William Lennox, this is Ronon Dex,” John introduced.
Will extended his hand. “Will or Lennox is fine.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” Ronon replied, taking his offered hand.
A brief moment of tension spilled over the group before Lennox broke the silence, addressing John, “Want to grab a drink at my place, catch up? You’re welcome too, Dex.”
John shared a look with Ronon, who tilted his head in agreement. “We’d love too, been far too long. Can we catch a ride?”
Will suddenly froze and his face shuttered.
John wondered what he’d said wrong.
But Lennox quickly composed himself, and replied, “Of course.”
Will wondered what the fuck he was doing as the three of them arrived at his place and climbed out of his car – he couldn’t bring himself to buy a truck. He didn’t socialize, not anymore. And not with a stranger that he was sure John was fucking, but it wasn’t any of his business. He’d had his chance, but ignored it.
Leading them in, he offered the two a seat, and headed towards the fridge. “Beer okay with you both?” Receiving nods of approval, he grabbed three, and used the bottle opener to remove the caps before taking them to the table and handing them out.
Taking his seat, Will got to the point, never a fan of small talk, “So John, who would have thought back when we were working ops together that someday we’d each end up working with different alien species?”
John suddenly choked on his beer, and Will realized too late that John probably hadn’t even known, that Atlantis was well out of the loop on the matters taking place on Earth.
Ronon looked curious and asked, “You work with the Stargate progam?”
Will shook his head. “No, I’m the commander of NEST.”
“NEST? Never heard of it,” John said.
“It stands for Networked Elements: Supporters and Transformers,” Will explained.
John’s eyes went wide. “You worked with the Autobots,” he breathed, his face lightening up like a kid’s on Christmas morning.
It was Ronon’s turn to be confused. “What are Autobots?”
“They’re the giant sentiment robots we were told about, living metal. I’d love to see if they could tell us anything about Atlantis. Would it be possible to meet? Do you think…” John trailed off as he saw the look of sorrow Will wore.
The battle that had destroyed Chicago wasn’t even a month past, but the deaths were all still fresh in Will’s mind. None more so than Ironhide’s.
“Shit, I’m sorry,” John said, reaching out to taking Lennox’s hand in his.
Will tightened his hand around John’s watching Ronon out of the corner of his eyes, but the big man didn’t protest.
“We lost a lot of good men and mechs. Ironhide—” Lennox choked on the word, the first time he’d allowed himself to speak it since the event. “Ironhide was the Autobot’s weapon specialist, but he was also my friend and…” Will trailed off. There was more than that, but how did he explain to someone how much a thirty foot tall robot meant to you.
Ronon was suddenly on his feet, and he tugged Will to his own before drawing him into an embrace.
“What the hell,” Lennox exclaimed, trying to pull away, but John was suddenly at his back and they were both wrapped around him.
“Shut up, and relax,” John growled in his ear.
For long minutes, Will stood stiff and unresponsive in the unwanted embrace, not knowing that to think about the oddity. Suddenly it didn’t matter anymore, and Will felt himself gradually relaxing, going boneless in their embrace, letting them support him. It should have been awkward or weird, and in some ways it was, be he didn’t care.
They understood, somehow they got it and knew. He didn’t allow himself to cry, couldn’t cry, but burying his face in Ronon’s neck, he couldn’t help the trembling that overtook him and threatened to pull him apart. This wasn’t him, he didn’t know what he was doing, but they apparently did, and it was a relief to let if even for the moment.